We all know that college is meant to prepare us to get a full time job in our major after graduation. However, companies like to see students who try and get out into the work field before graduation even arrives. That's why you want to apply for internships, co-ops, and any other mentorship programs different companies offer while you are in college to help prepare you for your future job (and to make your resume more competitive). However, the problem is that most college students don't know where or how to start applying for these internships, or do don't know what to do after they have applied. Today, I will be sharing some tips I used during my internship hunt to make my application process stress-free and to make myself stand out amongst other applicants.
Research the companies you are applying to
The worst thing you can do is apply to a company or get an interview with a company, and then realize the company has absolutely nothing to do with your major. Even worse is if you get to the interview and they ask you what you know about the company and you don't have an answer. Yikes! Take time to really research the company's position, mission statement, and overall motive before applying or walking into an interview. Not knowing the company is the fastest way to not get selected for a position.
Start applying as early as your freshman year
I secured myself several internship and co-op offers because I was diligent and applied last year during my freshman year. Companies love to see freshman who are involved on campus, have strong resumes, and are trying to get into the work field early. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there your first year and apply for some positions. You might get tons of rejection letters, but, you are making yourself known in the companies you are interested in and already getting used to the application process. The worst thing you can get is a "no" and the best thing is an interview offer, so go ahead and apply, even if you think you might not get it. Many companies do hire freshman which differs from popular belief. You just have to be willing to talk and apply to companies to find out.
Go to networking events and socials
Part of the reason why I was able to secure a co-op was because I networked extensively with the campus recruiters and company managers whenever they came to campus. I got their names, showed interest in the company, handed my resume to them, and in doing this, I was able to automatically secure myself a spot for an interview the next day with them. Get to know company recruiters and make them remember you (because often companies send the same exact recruiters to your campus every year). The more comfortable and confident you get around these recruiters and make them know you, the higher your chances are to get an interview with them.
Attend career fairs
This directly ties into the networking events and socials. Go to your colleges career fairs. Especially here, recruiters are obviously trying to find new talent, so get your resume, elevator pitch, and questions you have about the company ready. Prepare what you will say to recruiters and how you will answer some of their questions before you attend. Something I did to prepare for the career fair was go to companies I didn't really have interest in and got a dry run out there first. That way, if I made any mistakes, it was low risk and I was able to get myself ready for companies I really wanted to work for. Most colleges will post a list of companies attending their career fair, so use this list to find companies you want to research and then apply/talk to.
Follow up after applying and send thank you notes
This can honestly be the thing that makes a company give someone an interview or position over someone else. No joke. This is because so many people don't or forget to send them. Be sure to get an email or contact information for the recruiters you talk to on campus, at the career fair, or at your interview and within 24 hours of talking to them, send them a professional thank you email or letter expressing gratitude for talking with them and reinforcing how you'll be a good fit for the company. Thousands of these templates exist online, so find a template that works for you and modify it for the person you are emailing.
Hopefully these tips will be able to help you apply for internships and find internships with more confidence than before. The most important part is to stay diligent and persistent in the application process, and do not let a "no" stop you from applying again later in the future once you are more qualified.